About this Show

Book TV

Education. (2013) Jeff Shaara; Ishmael Beah; Hermione Lee; Khaled Hosseini. New.

NETWORK

DURATION
03:01:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 17

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Vicksburg 39, Afghanistan 24, Us 24, Virginia 13, Pemberton 10, Jackson 10, Johnson 8, Atlanta 8, America 8, Mississippi 7, Johnston 7, John Pemberton 6, Robert E. Lee 6, Joe Johnston 6, New York 6, Fredericksburg 6, Hermoine Lee 6, Washington 6, Europe 6, London 5,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    Book TV    Education.  (2013) Jeff Shaara; Ishmael  
   Beah; Hermione Lee; Khaled Hosseini. New.  

    August 21, 2013
    8:00 - 11:00pm EDT  

8:00pm
we have to choose that which we have. this is not just a gathering. i mean this is information that you are taking notes. we should be sending it on our cell phone. we should be sending the message immediately to the white house and demanding, and this is once again a president who has told the world's, he told the world in his speech. it was when he was in africa i believe it was her at some point. he said make politicians do it. i am a politician. make me do it. so i just close by saying the young man is part of what they call the joshua generation. well, do we are all appear part of the moses generation but remember moses showed -- joshua
8:01pm
had to do the fighting and we need the moses generation this weekend working with the joshua generation and don't let them divide us, old versus young. some of this language clarence that we have heard before. the tea party is nothing but dixiecrat tenet was lee atwater who made that point. lee atwater the southern strategy architect he said and i've got it on tape. you can't say it like you did in 1950 and 64. you have got to save us sing. you have got to use terms in the abstract and that is how he was able to capture the southern folk and they became republicans from dixiecrat to republicans. it's the same thing.
8:02pm
it's just that they speak in abstract. america is getting smart. everybody up here is absolutely right. it is no longer them saying its them, them, them. it's now us and these folks who are against medicare and social security, they are kicking their grandma under the bus. they are kicking their own people under the bus and i think mr. turner is absolutely right. we are going to win this because folks are going to sit back and stand for it. it's just a small minority. they just have a lot --. >> they are starting to kickback. we have ted cruz out there on the anti-obamacare to her. folks are starting to speak up now and say wait a minute. >> and they don't have an answer. they don't have an answer. >> i think we need to really pay attention to something that
8:03pm
mr. turner said talking about the history of the strike. it took years. >> that's right. >> and once we started boycotts, once we get that information is not only a question of getting together. it's a question of staying together even if we are losing. you can't mistake -- just because you can get information in a nanosecond doesn't mean you can win the battle in a nanosecond. what are you going to do with the information and i'm afraid and i will tell you this has been conscious that but somehow or other the system has put out there these techniques of instant gratification and we need to fight that. >> right. >> i would like to bring up mary lou white. she works at the mcdonald
8:04pm
smithsonian air and space museum and she is someone that directly benefits from the executive order we have been talking about. [applause] >> hello. i work at the mcdonald international airspace. on the half of good jobs thank you for joining us tonight. in 1967 dr. king gave a speech entitled where do we go from here? he said the civil rights movement must address restructuring -- sorry. restructuring a whole society. there are 40 million people, poor people and we must ask the question why are we putting the poor people in america and when we begin to ask that the question we are raising a question about the economic system and the distribution -- i'm sorry. [applause]
8:05pm
a border of distribution as well. dr. king -- common in justice of my unfulfilled dream. at the high school i tried to be a medical assistant but couldn't find a job so i ended up working at mcdonald's starting it $8.25. like so many others i am stuck so where do we go from here. i hope and pray that president obama fulfills dr. king's dream for economic justice. he can start by signing the executive order to lift 2 million federal no wage contract workers like me out of poverty. you can help as well. there are going to be organizer standing around the room with petitions. please sign our petitions and for those of you watching you can go to jobs nation.com.org and sign the petition as well. the work of the job nations --
8:06pm
the workers of jobs nation are inspired by civil rights veterans bill lucy leary rubin and a lot of other men and women who aren't here today. thank you for leading by example. we also think joe madison and clarence page for being a part of this great event trade together we shall overcome. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. [inaudible conversations]
8:07pm
>> the only thing i want to say is this. i would like everybody -- and that is one of the things i have a concern about. we pay taxes like other places in the united states and i think that is something we should actually be talking about. we want our right in this state to vote. [applause] >> actually that will be part of the commission to make sure that that is part of the agenda at saturday's march and demonstration. yeah.
8:08pm
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
8:09pm
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
8:10pm
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
8:11pm
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
8:12pm
>> james a. garfield went to chicago to nominate someone else for president. he was expecting it so lucretia garfield had no expectation that over the next five months somewhere between 17 and 20,000 people at show up at her home and her property in ohio. when these people started show up on the property that many
8:13pm
people obviously unexpected and uninvited started to cause a lot of damage to the outside of the property. we no lucretia garfield was a very gracious host to people but she very often would come in the front hallway and offer them during the campaign what she called standing refreshment which basically meant she was very gracious. she talked to them for a few moments and offer them a cold less water lemonade. of course she didn't want them to overstayed their welcome. now jeff shaara talks about his book "a chain of thunder" a novel of the siege of vicksburg which examines the civil war battle in the summer of 1863. the author of several historical novels he spoke for a little more than an hour in jackson, mississippi. >> the reason for me to be in
8:14pm
jackson maybe more so than any other is what took place 40 miles west of here and that is what i want to talk about tonight. at vicksburg, so this is quite a story and even some people around here don't know it. that is great fun for me but i need to start out talking about something that i always mention whenever i'm doing any event like this. i am quite sure that at least some of you have some interest in the civil war for one reason, because at of some time many years ago perhaps you read a book called the killer angels. every time i say that i see people nod their heads. you have no idea what the killer angels is that's okay. it's not required. i'll explain it to you quickly. the killer angels was written by my father and came out in 1974. it is the story of the battle of gettysburg. now with the killer angels is
8:15pm
not is the history of the battle of gettysburg. it's not a history book. it's the story as told to you from the characters themselves and not just any characters that the real people. the decisions that made history. the peoples whose decisions determined they would even be a battle of gettysburg. we are talking about people like robert e. lee or joshua lawrence chamberlain. these are the people whose decisions made that history and it's the reason we know about gettysburg today. my father took you there to that battlefield combat put you in their heads and told me the story the way they would tell it nobody had ever done that before. my father was not an academic historian and in fact he caught a lot of grief for that book. every university every major university history department has the civil war guide. there is the british diet and the roman guide.
8:16pm
florida state university have the civil war guy and this guy said to my father, to who are you to tell us that robert e. lee was fake. killer angels is the book that should never have been written. they were not friends. a year after that a marvelous thing happened to my father. a telegram comes to his house congratulations. killer angels has been awarded the 1975 pulitzer prize in fiction. now i don't know if he took that telegram over to the history department at florida state and whacked the guy in the face. they still weren't friends but if you think about that any author who wins a pulitzer prize has the right to believe his ship has come in. anything he wants to do from now on is going to be sought after. they are going to be publishers fighting over his work. this book will become a bestseller.
8:17pm
none of that happened to -- think about 1975. the end of the vietnam war. no one in this country wanted to read a book about generals. it was about as unpopular subject as you can imagine and my father was a master of bad timing. a crushing blow to him was that the killer angels sort of faded away. unless you were in the military and i have talked to people today who are commanding staff at leavenworth and if you were at west point or any other military academy it was required reading. or if you are a civil war buff you might've picked up the killer angels. otherwise you have never heard of it. the book just sort of faded away until 1993 and in 1993 the movie gettysburg came out which is based on killer angels. ted turner's great risk.
8:18pm
he raised millions of dollars to put that book on the screen and for the first time killer angels became a "new york times" bestseller 19 years after was published in for four weeks it was number one on "the new york times" bestseller list. again 19 years later and five years after my father's death. he did not live to see that. turner's people came to me and said ted wants to make more movies. wouldn't it be great specs take your father's book and before and after. follow on the same characters and tell the story the same way. it was always about being a movie. i had never written anything before. i was a businessman in tampa and i thought about it and thought okay maybe this is something i would like to try to do and i started working on the prequel
8:19pm
before gettysburg back at the beginning of the war and the characters. some of the same characters my father used but different people like stonewall jackson. a fabulous character and really had fun with that and started putting this together. someone else would adapt for a screenplay. it was always about being a movie. people asked me come to how did you know how to write a book that's weren't you scared? oh no because there were no expectations and the idea was that will put the stories together using my father's kind of research the original material. go back and hear the voices and irisin collections and letters. all the stuff from people who were there. that is the key and i remember that from my father's writing. if i'm going to do this i need to do that kind of research. we talked about the fact that whatever i come up with is lousy it goes in the trash. nobody will ever know so there was no risk. there is no expectations. i'm representing my father's estate in new york city or random house who now has his
8:20pm
number one bestseller in the killer angels. they take phonecalls and talking to them about saying yes i'm riding the prequel to the killer injures -- killer angels and is called gods in a -- i sent them the manuscript. the phonecall i got was we don't care if it's a movie. we liked the book. we think you are a writer. here is a contract. that changed my whole life. that's not an exaggeration. that changed my whole life. 13 books later it definitely has changed my whole life. the point of those stories and the magic of the killer angels, to what my father did was he was able to take you with him back to a time where you could see the story and away you have have never seen it before. you don't get that from a modern biography or history book. that is not what the historians
8:21pm
do. historians tell you the facts and figures. you get the story straight hopefully. my father did a very different land when i began to hear when i was talking about the spokes and then i began to go to different sources back to the mexican war. it's amazing, and a people didn't know there was a mexican war in 1846. we fought mexico. who took part. [inaudible. [inaudible question] these general sino from the 1860s, they were all young lieutenant right out of west point some of them clueless about being a soldier. that's a good story. go back to the american revolution. you know the american revolution john and abigail adams and benjamin franklin and george washington and you learned all that in school but are you really know the story? that is when i hit the ground running with this and getting into the heads of these characters. you know who they are but did
8:22pm
you know what it was like for benjamin franklin when he literally seduces king louis the 16th into coming into the war on our side and saving us. the british were winning. the finest army and navy in the world. there were defeating us until the french came in and joined us in the french bailed us out and enabled us to win the revolution. that's a story most people really don't know. of course we returned the favor from time to the french after that which is a story most of us do know. the point is when i began to hear from audiences and people saying to me i didn't know that, that's fun. i'm thinking what story don't you know? how about world war i and? most americans get their history from hollywood which is a sad statement to make that if you think about world war ii versus world war i they are making them
8:23pm
today. how many movies have been made about world war ii? hundreds and hundreds and i can count on one hand the good movies made about world war i. all quiet on the western front the original gallipoli and that's about it. most people just don't know about the lafayette or the red baron. the red baron by the way is not just a cartoon character as someone may wonder. he is a marvelous character and he is the german voice in that story. the marines at al lowood's. i'll bet you don't know the story of what the marines accomplished. they saved paris. they were responsible for the germans not winning the war by capturing paris. that is how close it was. i think you get the point.
8:24pm
if i can find these characters, but if i can find the story you don't know i get excited about that and hopefully gets you excited as well and makes you want to read the book or at least learn about these people. world war ii, what can i tell you about world war ii that you don't know and going back to what i said about hollywood. you know all those stories. you know what d-day and pearl harbor and all that stuff and i began to find things and began to find the story of north africa. when the americans go to war against hitler we don't go to europe. we go to north africa and the first thing we do is we get our buts kicked in a place called how serene pass in tunisia. that is not a hollywood -- a movie that hollywood's going to make a lot. that was interesting and i can't tell you how many people wrote to me and said you know i didn't want to like rommel.
8:25pm
i couldn't help it. he's a good character. i was going to do korea and i've been getting a lot of letters and talking about korea for years now. a lot of korean war vets have been writing me sort of getting on my case. i hear from guys saying we are getting older too. people talk about the world war ii vets but the korean vets were right there with them. i understand that and most americans know about korea -- mash. mashers and about korea at all. it's about vietnam. they tell you it's korea but hawkeye try saying that to a general in 1951 and watch what happens to you. it's a 1970s story. what about incheon? what about the oulu river? what about the choosing reservoir. these are stories that are important to a great many americans particularly if you were there. what about the story of truman
8:26pm
and that relationship. talk about people who are not friends. history making stuff and a story most americans don't know. i'm all excited about doing many of them and then this thing comes along in 2011 called the sesquicentennial of the civil war, 150th anniversary. i'm talking to my publisher and they are saying you know we should probably take another look at the sobel wharf. i a.m. sort of done doing stuff in the east. i can't tell you how many letters from mississippi and tennessee who said you know we are kind of tired of hearing about robert e. lee in virginia. there's a whole lot of stuff going on the west of the appalachian mountains that nobody ever talks about. they are absolutely right here that began looking into that a little bit and again it's not just the offense but as the
8:27pm
characters. one character jumped out at me and i realized i was in jackson mississimississi ppi and i can throw this out to you with some hesitation. the name is william tecumseh sherman. i was in atlanta last night and they booed. okay, that's enough but what i've always heard from people the story of sherman and what he did was one thing here at who he was it's an interesting man. love him or hate him he's an interesting character and he makes for good story. he's not the nicest guy in the world and i don't try to gloss that over, not at all. he understands what total war is. a lot of people in the 1860s still thought of for as this gentleman that you stood up and honored and faced your foe and all of that stuff and it's gone on for hundreds of years. sherman understood no, it has changed.
8:28pm
the idea of using sherman as a pivotal character got very interesting to me because he is in a lot of places that are very important during the civil war and the first one of those was shiloh. the book blaze of glory which came out last year deals with the battle of shiloh. each of these books comes out in the 150th year of the event more or less. last year was shiloh 1862. when i got into the research i was surprised and i wanted sherman as a character and of course grant is there and then there was the other character that pivotal confederate boys there. it's a character that i was not all that from there with and a lot of you i'm quite sure i'm not all that familiar with. his death changes the course of history. that is not an exaggeration. i'm talking about albert sidney johnston. if you don't know anything about albert sidney johnston and that's fine. johnson was the commander at
8:29pm
shiloh, that the confederate commander who does not survive the battle. the reason that's important is in the inveterate hierarchy albertson and johnston outrank property lee and what i posit to you and i will debate this with any historian is that in the summer of 1862 when lee is given command of the army of northern virginia by jefferson davis on the virginia peninsula, it is highly likely that albertsoalbertso n and johnson was alive who by the way happened to be close friends with jefferson davis it's highly like way and probable that command would instead have gone to albertson and johnson and we never would have heard of robert e. lee. there is a flipside to that. at the time of johnston's death on april 6, the 1862 at 3:00 in the afternoon his army is winning the battle. they are carrying the day and what he is trying to do is get
8:30pm
his people between grants army and the tennessee river where grant space is and if he can cut the walls grants will know where to go and he will either destroy grants army or they will have to surrender. an enormous victory for the confederacy and it happens that way. at the time of johnson's death it was happening. now, had it happened we never would have heard of ulysses grant. that would have been the end of his career and we are talking about the 18th president of the united states. that is the way history changes sometimes by a neck of a piece of lead in the back of albert sidney johnston's -- and he bleeds to death without even knowing he is dying. a simple tourniquet would have saved his life. he had one in his pocket and he didn't know. that's the kind of story --
8:31pm
that's not what usually hear about the battle of shiloh. it's not about the regimen. it's about the people. the other part of this and this carries forward in the book as well. when i got to world war i and got into the 20th century up until that point of these books my father's book and of my books have been told from the top down the generals. the head guys. when you get to the 20 century that doesn't work anymore. one of the things, one of the problems with albert sidney johnston one of the reasons he was killed in shiloh, generals bleed from the front. it's not a good idea. by world war i the generals have figured that out and they realized okay it's not a good idea to lead from the front. i'm saying that there. so the problem with that from a storytelling point of view you can't tell the story from the top down. generals are 10 miles behind the
8:32pm
lines. you need that guy. that guy who is out front. who is it? it's the kid, the 19-year-old kid with a musket or the m-1. that's the story you need to tell. so i got into the 20th century it's very important to find that character not just the general. i liked that a lot. so going back to the civil war and didn't just go back to the generals again. i found the kid, a private from the 16th wisconsin regiment and what they go through a shiloh and bauer carries forward to the vicksburg story. the vicksburg story and you know the book is called "a chain of thunder." this book surprised me for a couple of reasons. i knew the history of vicksburg but a lot of people don't. there is a reason for that.
8:33pm
the reason is going to be illustrated this year more graphically than anytime in recent memory and that is because it's the 1150th anniversary. it's also the 150th anniversary of the battle of gettysburg. the reason that is significant? the two happened at the same time. well today we call them media centers that even in 1863 where was gettysburg? 100 miles from washington d.c. and philadelphia and baltimore and that -- not that much further from richmond. that is world the reporters are. all the photographers go to gettysburg. vicksburg is in the middle of nowhere with all due respect to think about 1863, is the middle of nowhere so there aren't hordes of newspaper reporters and hordes of photographers certainly not on the confederate side. so it's overlooked. gettysburg is this huge news event and vicksburg you can make
8:34pm
the argument that what happens and vicksburg by up and -- opening up the mississippi river to the union that is far more important than the war than what happens to gettysburg. i have heard debates about that and tirades and debates about that but the point is it is important. not only does it separate the confederacy into. suddenly texas, arkansas louisiana is cut away. you can't get there anymore. so all their supplies, all the food and all the manpower is coming from the mississippi through the confederacy coming eastbound. it doesn't happen anymore. they can't cross the river. big union controls the river. the other thing is vicksburg is a rail hub. the railroad coming from the east stops at the river in vicksburg and from there it points west -- from points west that stops.
8:35pm
now the union army controls the railroad and they cut it off. you can't underestimate the power of rivers and roberts during the civil war. they didn't have interstate highways. they didn't have trucks. these rivers and railroads and the union army by capturing vicksburg stops all of that and the whole part of the country. the other part of this is now the mississippi river is wide open for the union army to use and the union navy to use to transport material meant food equipment, so whatever they need and to the south trade it very definitely is the beginning to the end for the confederacy and a lot of people in the confederacy know this. that is the history lesson. when i got into the characters and you have people like john pemberton. john pemberton is not doing -- to most confederates a favor to son. he is from pennsylvania and that
8:36pm
is a little irony there because a lot of the soldiers, to confederate soldiers who served under john pemberton and vicksburg are not happy about the fact that this guys from pennsylvania. he marries a woman from virginia which is why he pledged his allegiance to the confederacy. there is an awful lot of suspicion before during and after the fall of vicksburg, go to that was really sort of the plan all along. if pemberton was going to sell us out. there is no evidence that was the case at all. pemberton was an honorable man. i just don't believe he was a very competent general and there are lots of examples of that. i had a question in atlanta last night. people asked me, what is the problem? that problem? it will sell you one was a micromanager. the problem is when you are a you have to micromanage every detail. he would forget some details.
8:37pm
a great example. he gets into a fight with a local farmer because in the confederate army the rules are when we buy corn from you, you show the corn and deliver to us in bags. nod ears of corn. we don't want years of corn. as silly as that sounds that's a big fight pemberton has with the local performers. the warehouses and vicksburg do not have corn. he could have filled them up and he didn't. one example. on and on and on. there is a lot of that. shovels. the confederate engineers, samuel lockett, marvelous character. this is the man whose responsible for earthworks and tells general pemberton i need shovels. i need lots of shovels. pemberton forgets about that early, forgets.
8:38pm
ignores it so sam lockett is out there trying to dig and they have to do shifts because they don't have enough shovels to go around. little things like that. pemberton is a good example of what he was talking about. that is one person in this book. joseph johnson the other confederate primary confederate in the story, then if you know the history you know that johnson is here in jackson and defends jackson when the union troops come across the mississippi but then he decides not to and he just leaves. he withdraws and hands the city of jackson to grant and sherman and the other union officers and what did they do? they come in to burn anything of military value. when you have a town made by
8:39pm
merrily of wood and you've have taken this golding to burn in the 15 golding surrounded you know more than anything else what happens and of course that is what happened. jackson -- it becomes a city of chimneys. ulysses grant again love him or hate him. you have to understand what grant accomplishes in the capture of vicksburg. we credit the germans world war ii with a tactic known as the blitzkrieg lightning warfare. but we think the germans invented that. it was invented by ulysses grant that is what he does across the state of mississippi. when he finally crosses the river into mississippi he comes through at raymond and then jackson and back to champion hill and the river.
8:40pm
he does doesn't enable markedly short amount of time and john pemberton can't get his act together to keep up with him. that is how they end up at expert. pamper to never had a chance. when the confederate troops fall back into the work surrounds vicksburg an interesting thing takes place. it's very different from what happens at most battles in the confederacy and that is the presence of the civilians. a great comparison to make between vicksburg and regarding the civilians was fredericksburg virginia. the battle takes place six months earlier december of 1862 and at fredericksburg you have property leave behind a town upon the hill. you have the union army crossing the rappahannock river. the town of vicksburg is right in the middle. lee tells them please get out. they do. they listen to him and it's a sad scene of this wagon train of
8:41pm
refugees pottering wagons people hauling everything they can carry and their families and their leaving fredericksburg. going into the countryside and so the town becomes empty when the battle takes place. at vicksburg they are given the same opportunity. they stay. they believe as good soldiers its impregnable. look at the river. the river is down there. we are on the high bluff. there is nothing the navy can do about that. we have so much artillery along this river you are toast if you try to come by these guns. we have else all these -- over 30,000 troops here. the citizens of vicksburg, for there is no army. the army is right there. this is perfect. so they stay. when they union navy doesn't
8:42pm
fact make the run and pass the guns in april of 1863 there are casualties and the guns take the total bid. admiral porter in our bliss character and a superior navy man. he pulls it off and gets a lot of gun books and supply barges. they get past the guns at vicksburg and that enables grant to come south of vicksburg and make his run across mississippi. nobody in vicksburg expects that and the townspeople aren't even aware of it because the rumors that are flying through the confederate army is that grant is leaving. they are retreating. the gaming controls new orleans. admiral harrigan has already captured so the reason you see across the river on the louisiana side in the seabees union troops marching south. the reason you see that, they
8:43pm
are leaving. they're running away. the people convince themselves of that. they had no reason to leave vicksburg. after the battle of the big black river when they union gunboats upriver begin shelling the town of vicksburg all day and all night and suddenly all that wonderful confederate army that goes out to meet ulysses grant are going to shove grand right out of mississippi. they come pouring back into those earthworks. suddenly this citizens of vicksburg realize their armies right here. now the artillery shells are coming into town from the other direction from and land. they realized maybe we have a problem here. that problem becomes the siege of the city of vicksburg that lasts 47 days. during that time the food dries up, what horses there there are
8:44pm
have no forage. the people began to -- as does the army and the people suffer the same deprivations that the army suffers and they are starving to death. and they can't live in their homes. they can stay in their homes because the union artillery is shelling them constantly. they go into the countryside and they dig holes in the ground, to living in caves. they take things out of their own home whatever they can carry to make it is much like home as they can. they take that didn't take wash basins in dishes whatever they can carry take it to the curb to a site to try to make these holes in the ground as homey as possible. very soon they run out of food and then the horrible happens. they begin to eat the domestic animals and then they began to eat rats. it's a pretty sad story. once i found this out and began
8:45pm
doing this research i realized i have to have that voice. for the first time and i have never done this before in a sub sub -- chain of thunder you have one of the principle voices a 19-year-old civilian girl who starts out a typical young girl a southern confederate young woman very naïve and very innocent very proper and by the end of the story she has witnessed and experienced some of the most horrific things and he would would never hope to experience. she helps the army by serving as a nurse in a makeshift hospital there and those experiences shaped this woman into who she becomes for the rest of her life. that story is something i've never included in a book before but i knew i had to have that. i knew that was an essential part of the story. next, right now because i am on a book schedule which is not
8:46pm
something i have done before and it's not easy. no downtime. if you go to my web site there's a picture of me holding up a pair of red fish that i caught in panama city florida. that is why -- what i enjoy doing in my down downtime. i turned this manuscript and in january and edited it and immediately got into research on the next one. it said for a long time on my web site that this is a trilogy and therefore "a chain of thunder" in dealing with vicksburg is the second of the trilogy. the same thing happened. publishers like trilogies paid their something about if you put them in a box or something so they are happy with the idea of the trilogy. the first civil war with my father's book is the centerpiece is a trilogy and it's a box that so they like that idea. i was asked what is the third
8:47pm
book going to be? sometimes i forget where i am when i'm on tour. i'm sorry, i just get bleary eyed and i break up in a hotel and i have to think about what city i am in. one of the things that happened to me last year with the shiloh book i am in atlanta history center and someone asked me oh what is the trilogy going to be? is this is the second book will be vicksburg and not thinking where i was i said and the third book i'm going to start with the burning of atlanta and that i'm going to have sherman and the march to the sea and the crowd gives me this audible growl sound. i realize if you are in atlanta greatest sort of dig myself out of this. they pivotal confederate character john bell hood is the
8:48pm
character who hands the city of atlanta to sherman so that doesn't do me any good. then of course joseph johnson is the character the confederate general who retreats all the way across northern georgia weather than face him. i realize i might as well quit while i'm ahead. the same thing happened last night in atlanta. this time i learned remember where you are and know your audience. a good point. the story is what the story is and i realized if that's going to be the trilogy the third episode is going to start in atlanta at the end of the war. i love this piece of trivia. the reason i was focusing on the carolinas at the end most people probably many of you learned that the sobel war and son april april 9, 1865 when lee surrenders to grant in
8:49pm
appomattox. that is what everybody thinks. that is not one it is. the war does not end in the carolinas until joe johnston surrenders to sherman two and a half weeks later and after lincoln's assassination. they're still a war going on in the carolinas and that is a trivia question. that is a story people don't know so i'm really excited about that. but then i realize that i jumped from vicksburg to atlanta. i have just skipped a year of history and a whole lot of cool stuff and i can't do that. and so what i did was i went to my publisher and the exact same thing happened in my world war ii series. i did a trilogy on the war in europe and i got a lot of letters from marines saying europe? what is this europe's tough? we are not in europe. there is that other war going up on halfway around the world where the marines are. yeah i realize that.
8:50pm
it's not a good idea to get the marines that you select did a fourth book. i convince random house to allow me to do a four book trilogy. [laughter] bad math in new york. i wrote a book on the end of the war in the pacific okinawa and guam. i realized i mixed in exactly the same situation so i went back to new york the first of the year and sat down with my publisher and convinced him to let me do another four book trilogy. so that is what i'm doing. the third now of this four book trilogy will be chattanooga lookout mountain. the terms of the history and the terms of the momentous names that jump out at you like shiloh and vicksburg or antietam and gettysburg and fredericksburg, chattanooga is probably not up there and get some of the rising stars on both sides of some of
8:51pm
the eclipsing stars braxton brag for one. you think you love john p. pemberton. wait until you see braxton brag's on the confederate side. but there is a rising star in the confederate army as well. his name is patrick cleburne. the stonewall of the list. he is -- those two are going to be pivotal voices in the story. on the union side you have sherman again but you also have grant and george thomas. george thomas is a character who doesn't get his due. i've gotten a lot of letters from people who say you need to do something on george thomas. i am. he is in the center and what his people accomplish in chattanooga really wins chattanooga really wins the day. underneath them you have heard of. the young division commander, his star is definitely on the rise and there are a few others but this is a very interesting story. and then of course you have got
8:52pm
the grounds. i love the. i love the 20-year-old kid who is now a veteran. he is now seen the worst that man could do to each other and live through it and now he's a part of it paid and how his personality changes and how dutch power changes and sandy willis and what happens to them is a big part of the story. i am very excited. i'm in the middle of this right now. hopefully it will be back right here. want to end this because i very much want to hear from you and i love questions. i just want to tell you a story. first of all i'm very involved with the sub award trust. i'm on the board of the civil war trust. if you don't know what the civil war trust is the largest battlefield preservation organization in the country. we buy lots of dirt. thousands of acres. we haveaved battlefields
8:53pm
everywhere including around here and including vicksburg. it's a very important mission and part of my involvement with that brought about by the experience i had and i just want to tell you a story. please bear with me on this. imagine you are a confederate soldier and you have your musket you have been ordered to sit there and hunker down and wait and it's hot and you are around your buddies. there are guys that are chatting in guys reading the bible in guys writing letters home whatever they are doing to kill time. there's an artillery barrage out there somewhere and uart not paying much attention to the. it doesn't impact you and you are not ducking or anything. the artillery is going along for quite a while and then the artillery stops and you hear the drums start beating in the beating in the pickle start beating in the pickle start to blow and you know what that means. it's time to stand up and fall into formation.
8:54pm
you are shoulder-to-shoulder with guys next to to and there's another line of guys behind you and the sergeant is back there yelling profanities like he always does to keep you in line. he holds his sword and you know to pay attention to where he goes. the bugle call comes for you to advance or you start to walk. gradually you break out of the woods into the wide open and i mean wide-open. out in front of you is a mild of open grassy fields cornfields and way over there you can see this black line and the black line is a black wall and on the hill behind that you can see stuff going on with artillery pieces but it's a long way off. you are not paying attention to that. on both sides of you these men are shoulder-to-shoulder with you as far she can see in both
8:55pm
directions. what you don't know is there are 12,000 of you and align a mile wide. i have had people question this. do you mean to tell me when there's an attack that these guys literally just stood up and took one step at a time not this hollywood idea of a charge where everybody screams and yells and runs. try that for a mile with a 10-pound musket in your hand and see what kind of shape you are and at the end of that mile. they walked one step at a time. the whole army cleared. those guys over there could see you. what do they do? the artillery starts to the fire. the first thing they fire is a solid shot. you can see them coming because they bounce and they skipped through the grass and there's nowhere you can go. they are coming so fast you can see them. you can't get out of the way because you can't move. you are walking in line and
8:56pm
suddenly five guys down here are gone. you keep walking in the sergeant is still yelling at you. you keep going and you come across this grass and there are more solid shots coming through. now an explosive shot. the smoke starts to build and you start to cough from the sulfur smoke. you have have to stop and that officers are scrambling around yelling at you, take the fence down. you have to disassemble rails and you cross the road and you start to go uphill. they're the rock star and right in front of you a bunch of guys in blue jump up and fire their muskets real quick wildly and then they scamper up the hill. that's the skirmish line and they go back to whether buddies are. it's fairly harmless so far and you were still walking. the guy next to his bumping into you because you're all scared to death. then you realize you look over
8:57pm
here and there's a whole bunch of lou coming down into the field. perpendicular to you, sideways and they fire a volley. they are firing sideways right down your line and for the first time you hear that awful sound of lead on bone, the sound of a crack a walnut and the guy next to you drops. you want to stop and you want to do something but the sergeant is right behind you in just two in the back. keep going and he yells at you. the lieutenant is still there and you keep walking. now you see the emotion behind those rocks up there and the thousand blue hats suddenly appear and the reflection of a thousand bayonets as the muskets come up over the wall and that first ball bali fires and now there are lots of cracking walnuts all around you and guys screaming. if you guys turn around and run
8:58pm
because they can't take it. you are still walking and you were walking through the grass. you can't see, you can't read. you are scared out of your mind. you are shot in the back. so you back away. step over the stonewall and back away and then i'll these guys in blue come back up to the stonewall and they respect the retreat. but they do instead of firing their muskets, that they start yelling. a single word. they start chanting over and over again. the word is fredericksburg, fredericksburg. it's the revenge of the union and what you did to them at the battle of fredericksburg gradually making your way back down to where it's safe. what i have just described to you, my father took me across that piece of ground in 1964. i was 12 years old and he told me this story as we made that
8:59pm
mile walk. we crossed the emmitsburg rd. and as we climbed that hill he's telling me the story of one man in particular. he's telling me the story of a man named loomis -- louis armistead. louis armistead before the war is a major u.s. army wearing a blue uniform and one of his closest friend is a man named winfield scott hancock who now is a major general in the union army and both men are in california at the outbreak of the word. the best friends hug each other and i have the memoir memoir by byron hancock who was there. he writes the scene. they hug each other and armistead says to hancock if i should ever raise my sword against you may god strike me dead. on this day on july 3 in 1863 that is exact way what he is doing.
9:00pm
my father is telling me the story and we step over the stonewall. today if you go to gettysburg is the high watermark of the confederacy as they call it. ..
9:01pm
much as though the zoo is not desirable, a museum is not the battlefield. i love museums. i support them. all well and good, but you need the ground. what the ground. and if you should ever happen to us take that walk, whether it's at gettysburg or anywhere else, if you have the chance to take a 12 year-old ban. [applause] and if any of you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask. >> not a question but comment. of what that field.
9:02pm
now it's just a field full of butter cups when. hard to imagine. >> it was a very much the same then. it was a farmer's field. some of them are still there today. that is not taking anything away from vicksburg or anything else. shiloh was 98 percent perfect. one of those special places. yes. i see this all the time. what they called the back seat people. that's where i wrote my benefices. imagine you see a car who. people in the front seat, they're looking at every monument, who plaques and the cannons. the people in the backseat -- can we go back to the hotel now?
9:03pm
those are the people i'm trying to reach. and those of the people, you can tell its story. it's not a history lesson. if you can tell a good story you can reach those people. that's what i've tried to do. anyone else. yes. [inaudible question] >> joseph johnston deserting the city of jackson. yount. it's not a good day for the confederates when that happened. joseph johnston is in command of this entire theater of the war west of the appellation. and it is not really want the job. he despises jefferson davis. they have been feuding for more than a year. he despises john pemberton. and so he won't really come to a pemberton said assistance at vicksburg. he doesn't think it's worth saving.
9:04pm
part trying to sort of, you know, maybe recapture natural or something like that. he really does not care and all about mississippi. why -- sick. the gets off the train. down with his staff. it comes in. sets up shop there. and he really has no enthusiasm for doing anything but leaving. when he gets word that is coming with four divisions.
9:05pm
johnson orders of. he needs to come out of vicksburg and can attack chairmen the rear. maybe that will defeat sherman. meanwhile, i'm going north. he packs up and heads north of jackson hit and leaves the city. and so that token force that is left behind as combat sherman a little bit. james mcpherson polls and the way for an hour. then sherman sends some people around, sort of circled around behind. get these guys off. captures of you confederate shoulders and a few artillery pieces and that's it. and then they union officers, they just marched right into jackson. it's a pretty sad day for the citizens of jackson, mississippi meanwhile, joseph johnston -- i mean, sherman actually considers chasing this guy.
9:06pm
we should be pursued. grant is like, no. he is not the target. the target is the expert. we will curl back around and head west. but during the siege of vicksburg rumors are rampant that joe johnston is coming. pemberton believes it to the point that dlls all of his generals to spread the rumors because it keeps morale up. they believe johnstons going to save them. johnston gathered 30,000 troops, sizable force set sitting north and east of this city doing essentially not -- essentially nothing of the siege of vicksburg goes on. joe johnston allows the expert to fall into the hands of grant all the while right up until the end of the soldiers, the townspeople are hearing that joe will come. old joe will save us. he doesn't. he decides to keep his army to
9:07pm
fight another day. that is in a nutshell the story. now, it may sound to you like and slamming joe johnson. he's a good soldier the does good things. euro in the mexican war. a good engineer in the mexican war. at that time he's friends with robert e. lee. by this time he's in a feud with robert e. lee and really does not get along with much of anybody. how will history of changed? and johnston in fact, to the rear. gramm was concerned. grant had sherman take 40 percent of his army and turn them away. go back out to the bleeped -- big black river and keep an eye out. johnson could show up and we might have a problem if we are ready. grant is fully prepared for that and it never happens. you know, johnston after the war, the recriminations flying. johnston writes in his memoirs, all this negative stuff about
9:08pm
how pemberton was responsible for the loss. certainly accurate. he fires right back again, johnston was responsible. this horrible kind of thing that nobody wants to read about. this sort of cute. does the weight is up. what is the answer? amin, historians debated today. i can't get into that. that's the story. and what joe johnston does and doesn't do possibly change the history of this whole part of the story. anyone else of a question? yes, in the back. [inaudible question] >> my father -- my question is did my father read other books. he did buy other books. none of them are historical. i get that question a lot. people want more. because the killer angels were
9:09pm
not particularly successful, one of the rumors -- and i'm glad you brought this up. one of the things i hear a lot, and i'm glad to address this. he wrote god's in generals. wind gods and generals came out in '96. what does this guy do? find the manuscript and slapped his own name on it. that's not a very nice way of putting it. i thought about it and realized what a wonderfully backhanded compliment because what he's saying is he could have written "gods and generals." no. and one of their reserves my father had started "gods and generals" and i finished it. he had no audience. there is no incentive for him to continue the story. he went on to write a hitchcocks sci-fi novel that nobody read. then he wrote a baseball story.
9:10pm
i know some of the notice. the book was not published in his lifetime. and at the time of his death my mother never going through his files and found the only existing manuscript back in the days before computers. a typewritten manuscript. a ticket to new york. baseball and them not. who baseball was in fashion. my father, the master of bad timing, finally able to get the book published. universal pictures jumped all over. for love of the game. all over. you can see it. this wonderfully sweet film about an aging baseball picture. based on the novel. he wrote that book. that is the second time that i've been at a movie premiere
9:11pm
when the lights go down and the credits, and based on the novel that he did not live to see. a take that very seriously. thank you for that question. [inaudible question] >> lincoln is a character in the sense that he is always a character. his presence is always there. there are quotes from lincoln in the book. the only book that i have written where lincoln was physically present is the last full measure because he appoints grant to command the union army. he goes to washington. that story is told through the eyes of grant. his take on this guy. and a conversation that grant has with sherman. and it just happened. it's accurate historical.
9:12pm
he thinks his kind of a yahoo. grant said some straight. i don't think so. and he is met in face-to-face. but his presence in the sense that there is a great buffer between grant in london. that offer is henry halleck. secretary of war stanton. and they like being the buffer. they're running the war. grant understands, you're really not his friend. that is one reason my love this. it's one reason why grant cut his communication with washington. the telegraph lines, when grant is in mississippi the nearest telegraph is meant this. if you want to get a telegraph, washington wants to gripe but then, it takes forever for word to get to grant's army. that is just fine with grant. that's not lincoln.
9:13pm
lincoln is given granted carte blanche to do what he wants to to take the city of the -- expert. that is the order. whatever it takes do it. and that's passed to grant from lincoln. and that freedom is something no commander has had up until that point. lincoln learned the art way. burnside and hacker and these other disasters. but he can depend on grant. granta's get the job done. in that sense lincoln is a presence. he's not the physical presence. [inaudible question] >> nathan bedford forrest, a major character in the shiloh book, one of the characters is a young lieutenant who rides with forest, i am man from mphis.l ce
9:14pm
chattanooga book. forest was born into tennessee. he was sort of east of where shiloh yesterday. he was raising cain, doing a lot of good work for the confederacy with his cavalry, but he was not directly involved in the fighting around vicksburg. he was just too far away. i make this point. grant is very aware where forest is. he wants to know where you is because granta suffered a place called holly springs in northern mississippi. already experienced having a bunch of confederate cavalry show up in his backside for and to supply it -- destroy his supply depot. that costs and an entire campaign in december he is not making that mistake again. he keeps his eye on where forest is. for stays away. he focuses much more on
9:15pm
tennessee at that point. of course, like i say, you will come back in the next book won the fight begins. now. not at all. you could say it would have been nice for my confederate pointed you had forced bin at vicksburg. one of the complaints that john pemberton had is joe johnston took all his cavalry. pemberton did not have eyes out there. yet less than a thousand cavalryman to support his army. grants cavalry, they can keep an eye on those guys. that was the serious -- talking about joe johnston, he took all of the cavalry and took them in the tennessee. he felt like he needed them there.
9:16pm
anyone else? >> of all the characters you have written about, who is your favorite? >> if you are talking far beyond the civil war, i can tell you -- okay. well, civil war, there are two. one of them i had to kill. when i wrote "gods and generals," my first book, i had never done this before. added not know what it was like to get emotionally involved. that's what it takes. i have to feel that i love these people in order to get into their heads. how dare you put words in the mouth of robbery lee. point taken. if i dare to do that, better believe those words are authentic to the character. so of that process involved
9:17pm
really getting -- falling in love with these characters. stonewall jackson. i love the character of jackson, and i always knew that there is going to come at a time when i will reach the time line, may 10th, 1863, when i'm going to have to kill this man. that's one of the toughest phase of my life. i was calling all day writing the chapter. the chapter is off went in a way it did not expect. took me in a direction that totally surprised me. every writer knows this. that was amazing. the other one is granted. i talked about camelot. i realize ryan. you cannot deny. a lot of other people might have lost it. lincoln understood that. he understood he finally found the right guy to put in charge.
9:18pm
i give lincoln credit for that. when grant goes east it's all over. it's just a matter of time. and grant says that. those words. i use that in the last full measure a lot. he knows he has begun, the people, the strength, the power, the food, the horses, and lee doesn't. it's just a matter of time. you have been very patient. thank you. and going to sit back and sign some books. >> what are you reading this summer? book tv wants to know. >> two books on hand, one pleasure read in one that is more brain food. my pleasure book this summer is the interesting. so we're following a group of teenagers into adulthood as they are striving to be exceptional people. and the protagonist and she gets older starts questioning this idea of balance or lack thereof between ambition and happiness.
9:19pm
i think it's pretty pertinent to washington d.c., and that's when i'll be reading on the beach. my brain food, will be reading dionne winding. he is a great reporter for the new yorker. and i think it will be interesting to see his storytelling. he is using different vignettes in narratives of around america, including in youngstown ohio near where i am to explore bigger scenes about the decline in america, increasing polarization, lack of trust in government and how that has progressed. so pretty pessimistic, but i do think that it will be tied together. >> let us know what you are reading this summer. tweet us @booktv, posted on the facebook page, or send us an e-mail. >> our special book tv program and continues with an author
9:20pm
interviewed ishmael beah at the recent book expo america and new york city. this is 15 minutes. >> ishmael beah, author of a long way gone. your second book is coming out. what did you choose to make it a novel? >> well, first of all, wanted to deport a little bit from the more. secondly, the issue and i am writing about in the new book is about a lot of people. my experience going back home after the war and other people's experience. the composite. no one to be able to have the freedom to play around with words and images more. that's why it's fictionalized. >> what kind of freedom is writing a novel give you rather than nonfiction? >> well, there is room to play with language more. and to actually extend, expand a
9:21pm
little bit more, dramatize a little bit more. also tying things and not necessarily related in a way that's when everyone to do with this novel. brown talking about things that existed before the war, and after the war they existed again china put them together. >> what is in theory? >> it's actually looked at in a fictional way. it's in a remote part of the country where people don't really get to hear about it. people go back home. they're starting from scratch.
9:22pm
it's pretty much overgrown and have to start from that. have you do that? how you actually you know, we've the fabric. what do you lose, what you gain. you know, how you get around all of these. >> after a long way down was published, your first trip back to sierra leone, what was that like? >> it was very very critical in the sense that was going back to a place. i young adults who had written. so it was very difficult.
9:23pm
it brought back a lot of difficult memories. but now people recognize me as well. >> for u.s. celebrity? >> i am. i tried to hide under the radar. when i am there i speak the language very well. i try to be a regular person. it's good for my riding. unintrusive. so i'm just a regular person. >> now "radiance of tomorrow" is coming and in january of 2014. have you finished the book? >> i have. just looking for cover. this is just amok. >> so we're seeing here in this little booklet is not going to be the cover. >> you would have the type on there will be the same. the picture will be in the back. there will be another cover.
9:24pm
it's done. >> is this book written more in the tradition of sierra leone whether than a long way down? >> it is written. everything right because for me i think when you write about any human experience you have two choices. a political science background, so you can write it in a very how big terms which. take of the humanity of the we can just go very simple, beautiful, lyrical, poignant story. people can draw the conclusions that you want them to drop. you don't have to give them the theory. this country is like this. i would never say that in my book. i would just describe how the public and the people who live in that country, how they're
9:25pm
affected. so, for example, instead of being among jones cried, no-show john crime. experience what is happening. when they're telling people a story or early you have to capture the imagination. they can smell and be part of the experience. after tap into their imagination . >> where did the title come from? >> "radiance of tomorrow," the title comes from somewhere in the book where they're is a strong character who is a woman based on my grandmother trying to tell the whole story. and so it really comes from a particular event in the book where she's telling a story about why people should continue being helpful. this is where the tunnel, trump's.
9:26pm
>> the talk in your second book about the war that never ends. even make a mention of the civil war that has never ended. >> yes. when war's end, and the devastation, the sort of physical wound, the ones that are more visible and heal quicker. everyone can see that. the internal ones, the psychological and all the things that happened, those are the ones that take a much longer time. so the war can and physically, but other things that continue to brew, that takes a much longer time. >> and while that's going on people are still trying to find a way to live together. you can't put your life on hold for that to end before you can continue living. he continually try to mend what has been broken. it's very, very difficult.
9:27pm
>> have you reconciled yourself from this? >> to some extent. in the sense that there is nothing enkidu to undo what happened. but with the memories you can never forget, so you learn to live with the memories of war. you learn to not react because you're not in charge of what triggers an emotion or flashbacks and nightmares. i have no control. it could be the simplest thing. so all i have control of is my reaction. bsn in the corner of some street in washington d.c. our new york.
9:28pm
just jogging as something. that's all i can do. the difficulty of living with the memories of war. they're with you for the rest of your life. as you grow older yet to find ways to deal with them so you don't pass it on the people the close with you and things like that. >> one of the experiences of writing a long way gone and "radiance of tomorrow," hallandale like, how are they different, where did you write them? >> a very different. and never intended to publish a long way down when i was writing it. was ready to find a way to find in my thinking in case has asked about what is going on in my country. and would be able to speak and as succinctly. so that was the idea. later on it became a book they agreed to publish. this one fix i wrote with the intention of publishing it.
9:29pm
this was written when i was an undergraduate. the road in new york. cover it in sierra leone. they're everywhere. >> have you grown used to living in the states? >> yes. i go home frequently. to have american tendencies. the so i describe myself. i'm part of both cultures now. and i left about the same years. >> waiting for my life, thinking >> has a long way gone chains you and your family because of its success? >> it changed my life completely.
9:30pm
beyond what i expected. i really did not understand what it meant to be a public person. no mistakes. that was a regular kid. and when the book came out the friend of mine, a college buddy and i moved into an apartment. we set up a telephone. and give him my name. the of the day. why the doing that? so for me to realize while letting you. and also, the new york times magazine. a photograph of me on the front cover. alice in the subway one sunday morning.
9:31pm
i'm sitting there. the chilly everyone. nine of the train and left. it's funny to me, you know. i played around with it. and the simple person. was raised that way. changed my life tremendously. >> "radiance of tomorrow." it is in the end of may be the beginning of another story. every story begins and ends with a mother, grandmother, girl, child. every story. >> i believe that strongly because i think going to the idea of storytelling, every story starts with something that you discover. so every story is really having birth to something, an idea, fought. introducing people to a new process. so you bring them alive.
9:32pm
but because every story, the one to five women and the ones who give birth, so every story starts with that. and this is actually from the tradition of storytelling. agra being a part of it. my grandmother was a strong character in my life. you know, you understand it ten years from now or something. some us with this was. >> what is sierra leone like today? >> it's coming along. the war ended officially in 2002. a lot of development has been coming slowly. dahlia to tell a lot of young people are returning back and starting projects. that still a bit funny in the sense that the politicians in
9:33pm
terms of people who can really move this country forward. the service of the people in the country. this is one of the reasons why the war started. did have a government that really gets it. a very small country. if someone is really interested in shaping this country, the care for themselves so we have to redefine the idea. doesn't mean it when in power you are the almighty. yet the service of what is left. in not there to be a tyrant but to do whatever you might read these of the problems your having. we had one. the moving along slowly.
9:34pm
>> do you still see a lot of amputees? >> yes. in certain parts of the country there are very remote which i read about, renovated. in that in the capitol city or a lot of those developments usually happen. a lot of people are very dignified. yam was chopped off. that's one thing i loved about my people. if it wasn't for that. >> and you're watching book tv on c-span2. "radiance of tomorrow", the second book of ishmael beah just coming out in january of 2014.
9:35pm
>> book tv boat club returns next month. two parties in a funeral plus plenty of valet parking and america's gilded capital. read the book and engage and i facebook page and twitter. the for daily book club post to get the conversation going, including discussion questions, links to interviews with the author, reviews of the book and video with the author. >> up next, as book tv in london. hermoine lee sat down with us to discuss the process of writing biographies and the lives of virginia woolf and edith wharton . hermoine lee is the author of several nonfiction books including "philip roth," "body parts," and "biography: a very short introduction". this is about half an hour. >> and you're watching book tv on c-span2. forty-eight hours of books every weekend. we are in london interviewing authors. we want to introduce you to
9:36pm
hermoine lee. first of all, what is your day job? >> i am the president, quite a sizable budget and oxford. and a big international interdisciplinary college or loss of undergraduates, the study. >> when you say wolfson college, oxford, what is the organization there? >> you often need people in the streets when not afraid to come up to you and see where is the university and university in which there are a number of colleges. customs and habits. and each college has its own student. but the students to be studying
9:37pm
a within the departments and faculties of the university as a whole. the colleges like their home early. >> there is an oxford university >> there is an oxford university, but within it it has all kinds of federal entities which we sometimes call silos. it works as a complicated whole which is grown up through many centuries into the shape. have departments, the university administration, the college's each of which has their own distinct character. wilson has a special feel to it because it was founded in the 1960's. a guy who wanted to -- was very keen on american culture and civilization. a famous in level. he won the found the college for graduate students did not have much at that time.
9:38pm
secularism egalitarianism, liberalism. high table and choirboys and cobblestones. you know, and the opposite of that comment is not have a separate common room. all mixed together. it's very egalitarian. it works interestingly and well. >> i series of interviews, we talked with a professor who founded a new college. and he talked about it being secular. is that a trend, something different in english education? >> this is private and privately funded. it's completely different kind of organization. oxford university is a very different kind of organization from that new invention. but i've link -- i suppose as
9:39pm
with england itself, britain and self, increasingly secularization and education as in many walks of life. >> as a college president to you find you're spending most of your time on administration matters? >> it's a past full pardon. it just making sure that things are done well for the students. your turn to the spring and as much cultural and academic activity as can be into the college. you are presenting the profile of the college to the outside world. you're also fund-raising because although to the outside guy it might seem when you go to oxford that it looks recovery will take place, in fact individual colleges and individual studies, particularly the humanities,
9:40pm
underfunded. so one of the jobs of a college head office to try and raise. >> is that a new thing here in england? >> yes. it's much better. it's a relatively new here. it's relatively new for every college to have its own development director. >> we invited president hermoine lee more as an author then a college president, but as a segue as a college president is important for you to be a published author? is it important that will send college professors published? >> it's not a general rule. oxford and cambridge colleges come from many different kinds of backgrounds. they could be from the civil service, the foreign office.
9:41pm
they could be from the media, or they could be authors or economists. they're is a rule that says we're looking for a published author. quite the contrary. quite often colleges when they're looking for a new head when often tend to go for someone who is good at figures are business. i think my college wanted a slight change. it never appointed a woman before. there were interested in having someone in the humanities this time around. and so you don't have to be a published author to be the head of an oxford college. the rest of my life has been as a teacher and writer and academic. i think they want you to go on during that part of your life as well. no one eats it to stop. just be the head of the college.
9:42pm
then you would lose. >> what is the oxford center for life? >> it's something that i set up. being in this college give me the opportunity to do that. there were quite a few within an academic context. it allows people to come and do all kinds of activities connected with all the different ways of writing a life story. better fee, letter writing a memoir writing, documentary film , many different genres. the advantage is that it's very broad. so it's -- talking about biographies, it's not just autobiographies but all those mixed john rance. for instance, we just had a series. the way in which having a
9:43pm
portrait painted or looking at portraits tells you something about the story. we crossed disciplines in a way. we have workshops and seminars. we have even had sessions where we talk to people about the books their writing and helped them with those books. >> one of your most recent books , "biography: a very short introduction". have you write a biography? >> so many ways of writing a biography as there are of living a life. the early 20th century, victorian biography. people sometimes forget it's as hard or harder to write as it is to leave one. so you can do the chronological message. you can take different scenes. you can approach a person's life from the outside, tell the story backwards. it seems to me there are no rules. lots of conventions, but no
9:44pm
rules. >> heat when you wrote a virginia woolf outage started? >> i started it with a quotation from virginia woolf which went my god, how does one write a biography. she is very interested in the ways in which you have someone taken through a birth to death and go through their professional life, the public acts of their life. she was very interested in a way that is so different from the reaction been the dalai stated date. where we are, a complete model and confusion of memory and anxiety and thinking about different things it wants. pitts of our lives clashing so that we have a public face to the camera as it were, but all kinds of other things going on inside that. in she felt in her day, which is the early 20th century,
9:45pm
conventional biography, the conventional biography, the kind of lies and letters, the official record to not really get close to the secrets of a life. so one of the reasons i was interested in i was so fascinated by her queries, her critiques a biography. >> how well known when she and her time? >> that's a very good question. she was known in her time particularly by the 1930's. she died, she kills herself in 1941. she was known as a writer of rather elite experimental unusual original novels. she was also known as a critic because she wrote a lot of critical essays and she was known as a social figure belonging to a particular group. she was also known actually in her time as a feminist because
9:46pm
she wrote to very important and influential essays, long essays the situation of women in her country at that time. after she died her reputation kind of took a dip. quite often happens with writers just after their death their reputations because they're not writing any more. the reputation kinds of goes down and gets picked up later. it does not always happen, but it can't. and in the 60's with the feminist movement she was recuperated and people came factor. then there was a lot of posthumous publication because she left behind her huge amounts of unpublished materials and some on edited materials. in the biographies began to come out. the early 1970's. she had a very major and dramatic afterlife. and a thinker reputation from
9:47pm
the late sixties onward became one of the most famous writers in the early english language and one of the most influential writers and also one of the most argued about riders because there are many people, particularly in my country who can't stand her. >> why? why was she argued about? >> because people see her and a very different ways. it's interesting. many writers are just seen in one way. with virginia woolf the very name for some people conjures up a privileged, rather precious community, a slightly spoiled individual who had enough that it did not have to work for a living. that was actually not the case. and he could indulge in experimental writing. and because she could be tremendously and often quite
9:48pm
unpleasant. i quote -- i can't idea lesser. she has a reputation for being kantian snooty. upper-middle-class. she was very dismissive. so a lot of people later. this particular generation of grammar school educated mainly men, people who process scholarships to get out of their families and regard everything to do with virginia woolf with real hatred. it's not just antagonism of real hatred. so she is described very differently. if you go to the france, she's a great heroine, tragic heroine who is tremendously romanticized and idealized.
9:49pm
if you go to the states -- in america i think she's much more of a political helen, someone who is thought of as very radical, very left-wing, very socialist, very feminist, she actually was in her thinking. so she's a very complicated figure comanche changes when different people look her in different ways. >> what is this like? >> it was only called the after it had long been a group of friends. it was essentially a group of young men who got to know each other in cambridge. the socialist. this then man who was the brother of virginia stephen,
9:50pm
later virginia woolf. they get to know each other in cambridge and then they'll move to london and took up residency in this big old houses, hence the name. and they stay together. different people who were sort of on the edges of the group like t.s. eliot and the in foster. basically this original group of people in to marry, had homosexual relations with each other. the and all kinds of different relationships. very gossipy. they like to have a good time. all very talented. they did create a kind of clicked. if you're not in it you hate it. so it was an influential group of people and it adds an incredibly talented people within it. one of the most influential economist of the 20th-century.
9:51pm
>> hermoine lee, did you choose to write a biography of virginia woolf? >> i have been very fascinated all my reading life with american literature. at a great passion for particularly actually american women writers. and these writers of the late 19th and early 20th century and 70 fascinate me. i think it's because i'm just deeply interested in american culture, and the malls of very interested in american writers who wanted to carve out a very original voice for themselves, sometimes very much at odds with their american backgrounds or their american society who quite often went away, live in europe or were deeply influenced by european writing and culture.
9:52pm
so quite often feel as a slightly not at home in america. and that's as low her book. think she's one of the greatest novelists. al of her, wonderful, ironic treatment with society. i love the way she fills her books up with the social habits and lives in details. acting what is absolutely wonderful about her is a mixture of cool, ironical, satirical wit. and the deep, passionate, longing and identification of people whose lives of gone wrong, have knocked out what it wanted in life, who has been thwarted or in some way left bereft. she is a comic writer tragedies. >> did she intend to write about
9:53pm
the same class of people virginia woolf would write about? >> financially is just -- there is ocean between these writers. it is what came of the very wealthy kill the aids generation. she had a lot of money, far more money than virginia woolf. edith wharton would have taken one look -- in fact, she was. should the the very she. bohemian and hand to mouth. edith wharton made these extremely beautiful homes. two houses in france is the kind of person is sincere service ahead to spring clean the house so that by the time she is
9:54pm
there, the silk and satin sheets along the bed and being comical about it because they're is a level of wealth and expenditure which is pretty impressive. at the same time, unlike many of her contemporaries this woman was a professional writer who did not actually really like conspicuous consumption. she did not like pending for the sake of it. she wanted to make very beautiful homes and gardens. a quiet in interesting times. her greatest passion was literature, art, paintings, gardening, and not -- so to identify edith wharton with high spending, you know, the millionaire on fifth avenue is
9:55pm
wrong. she's a more private person and that, but she did have a lot of money unspent while. >> this is book tv on c-span2, and we are in london. we're talking with hermoine lee, author and president of wilson college at oxford. another topic of years was willing cantor. does she fit into this mix? >> i'm not sure and writers do things according to a plan. i clearly have an interest in female writers. but then they have an interest in american literature. i am very interested in the strong, independent, original women who don't fit easily classified as feminists. you can't easily put them in the boat. i absolutely think that there very different kinds of
9:56pm
novelists. think we're probably links them is their passionate and rather stringent and their interest in language. the one to use the best possible language. none of the three women would have never written a slow descent. >> what are you currently working on? >> someone very different. and just finished a biography of a british novelist who became -- can to the states for a novel called the blue from which came out in the year 1996. i think maybe 97. she started very late. she was the daughter of a very distinguished and interesting family. her own school was a rather famous convert to catholicism. her father was the editor of
9:57pm
punch. insentient this very clever professional family. she married someone who was rather unlucky. she brought of the family, had been a very brilliant student. she became famous and 80 with this novel. so it's a very interesting novel about lateness and waiting. very encouraging. kind of start very young, but it's always nice to hear about someone who finds themselves late in life. so she wrote something the 13 books in 20 years. she started writing about her own line so she and her family when and lived and the very old
9:58pm
leaky barge. it sank with dollar things on board. they had to go into a shelter housing. she wrote a wonderful novel in which sure enough there's a creaky old barge which sinks. she was teaching. she went to school. but sorry i'm late, but my house sank. in an usual excuse experiences that she had herself working in the bbc during the wartime, trying to run a bookshop in sussex. and then there came a certain point in her life very late on obviously where she decided she did not want to do that anymore. she started writing an extraordinary series of very short historical novels, one set in italy in the 1950's just after the war. this novel called the blue phone which she said and early 19th century germany. a wonderful novel set in russia.
9:59pm
she does this extraordinary thing, she does all this walmart, knows everything there is to now and and kind of compresses it down. so you read these 150 page books and feel that you are in this world, completely inhabited. so very mysterious and intriguing. no one has written about her. the family asked me to. i'd never done a book before about someone i knew have someone his family to find someone who is not been written about before. a completely different kind of challenge. >> did you write historical fiction? >> that is what you would comment. if you think of that, when -- on the prices in western hemisphere, that's what you associate with historical fiction. when i say doesn't sound quite right because it's more -- it's
10:00pm
as if she disappears inside these particular historical world's. and without doing 500 pages of description just buy influence she makes you feel as if living in that place at that time with those people. it's uncanny actually. it's like ghostwriter. >> tying all four of those biographees the you're working on all worked on and to a biography, did you approach 04 the same way? have you developed a personal formula? >> formula is slightly heart sinking. it's going to apply a formula on top of these people. i do think that you need tent -- if you are literary biographer, which is what i am, i'm a literary critic income and by not vp is admired the work and want to find out the peculiar
10:01pm
relationship between the work and the life. .. >> this includes a series of very rich and refurbished rooms. you know, which would represent
10:02pm
a kind of so social anthropology in a way. he gives us a glimpse as to how these people work. so i would do something like that. but i wanted it to be quite fair. i don't like to explain things to much, i think it insults the reader, so i haven't wanted to do that, to explain too much. the very short introduction on the biography was a series we just slip into your pockets or the meaning of life were structuralism and this includes 30,000 words that will tell you something of what we need to know.
10:03pm
so we are talking about all the different kinds of ways one can approach this. the different ways of the that the biographies can work and the problems and challenges facing them at different times. >> host: how did virginia woolf killed herself? >> guest: she drowned herself on a cold day at the end of march of 1941. end the war was taking place all around them, her husband was jewish, they both knew very well that they had a list ready of the people to be exterminated when the invasion took place. they knew that they were on that list. they had discussed suicide in case of invasion, which at that time people thought was quite probable. in a properly rational way. she had all her life and will
10:04pm
this included phases of and attacks of a mental illness, which we would describe as depression or bipolar. i find the terminology difficult because it is comforted at different times. there was a period in her life when she suffered. but i don't think one would call her a schizophrenic. you know, the imposing of the terminology is very difficult. but she was very vulnerable. she had kept her cell going through the work. with the help of her husband, who in my view, was tremendously caring of her.
10:05pm
she is always fragile and she suffered from lack of confidence. she felt very depressed and she had just finished a novel, which you never revised. she was writing a memoir she was trying to go back in time in her mind. she was finding the reading of freud at that time, and she felt the onset. there were so many different interpretations of why she killed herself at that point. i think that she felt that at that time she would be a
10:06pm
terrible burden in the middle of the war. and i think she felt that she couldn't do that to him. but i think that she also took a decision that she would not go on at that .1 always wonders. she was 59 years old, she wasn't old. people forget that she was 59 years old. that is older than sylvia plath. but that is a young. she would've written all kinds of extraordinary things after the war had she survived. >> host: where did the phrase who is afraid of virginia woolf come from? [laughter] >> guest: i think it was invented for a play. he sought written on the merits
10:07pm
of a restroom in a bar somewhere. that this is the story. and of course who is afraid of the big bad wolf, a play on that phrase. that one play immortalized. so the phrase sums up that whole part of culture and learning the chief sohn patient with. so i suppose that is what is part of the book. she is such a major figure. i did often think about this.
10:08pm
>> host: we are talking with hermionee lee on booktv. thank you for being here. >> will be reading this summer? papeete wants to know. >> right now, the story is set in seattle. some very interesting quirky characters. i wonder where it's going, but after that i'm doing something of a book club.
10:09pm
we took a couple of books and then read them and have breakfast. i also want to read the down brown inferno. >> let us know what you're reading this summer. send us a tweet apple tv. send us an e-mail at
10:10pm
booktv@c-span.org. >> booktv continues. the book "and the mountain echoed" was written by khaled hosseini. this is a little less than an hour. >> this is such an extraordinary setting. to see all of you here. all of you here to claim this amazing book.
10:11pm
this is less afghan centric and more global in its perspective. and i'm wondering how central the complex history of afghanistan as to your writing into your narrative. eatured very commonly inly in the first and also my second book. part of it was because i wrote the novel and i saw the characters struggles playing out on a more personal and intimate level is more of a human, and not playing out on the big political arena.
10:12pm
it is not quite as forceful as an impact. i felt like we dealt with those things well during my first two books and it's nice to have a conversation about afghanistan and talk about characters and their relationships between brothers and sisters, you know, talking about complicated feelings about wealth and so on and so forth.
10:13pm
>> the sibling in the relationship is rooted in this fierce love. but there is so much heartbreak and sacrifice and betrayal. talk about the family and the sibling relationships are clearly central in all of these lives. but there is also the father and child in the sacrificing of children in the allegory with which you opened. then of course the heartbreak that follows. >> the novel is shaped and at the heart of the novel is this love story between a boy that is 10 years old. we meet them in the early 1950s. we live in this village and they are on their way to carve out across this desert and neither
10:14pm
child knows what is in store for them in cabo. when they do get better, something rather dramatic happens that's what this beautiful relationship between a brother and his sister. it is a separation that devastates both in their unique and specific ways. from there the story spreads out. two other places, to other characters. the word echoed his bare and it is central to the book and it ripples across generations and affects the lives of many characters. it is a love story, just like he you said. a love between brothers and sisters.
10:15pm
so i am sort of disinclined to write that as a dramatic motive, but love blossoms between two people that have an unlikely and deep and meaningful relationship under difficult circumstances. >> so many of these relationships also involve caregiving. between the sisters. what is it about that role of caregiving that also inspires you to want to create the characters. >> is a manifestation of love that is something that you don't really think about when you think about love and meeting somebody and falling in love and you go on a date and that sort of thing. it turns out that love is a lot of work and it is tiring and a
10:16pm
test your patience. it is complicated. when my father became sick in the last year and a half, as he gradually lost his faculty and became increasingly dependent, i saw my mother dedicate her entire life to caring after him and feeding him and doing all the things that he needed. i saw this beautiful and rocksolid expression of love that i have ever seen. that expression of love is very appealing. i find it very touching and moving.
10:17pm
>> you have the children's voices echoing in the mountains. what about that poem captured your imagination? >> i kept waiting for a title that never came. i begin to worry and i would e-mail my editors say that i still don't have a title. what will i do. and so i started researching poems about children. and i found this lovely poem by william blake and there was one last verse that said and on the hills echoed. and i heard him actually was singing that poem. >> that's extraordinary. >> yes, i thought it was such an evocative phrase and it really struck me and i thought that i would play with and we change
10:18pm
the hills to mountains. it ripples out across time and space the novel is composed like a series of a mosaic and a series of vignettes that are all interlocked and create one big picture. >> there is a scene where the complexity of the moral choices
10:19pm
made by those who come to afghanistan, making promises and then the doctor returns to california. can you respond a little bit? >> there is a physician living in northern california who has been away for 20 some odd years. and after the fall of the taliban he has a very difficult experience there. when he arrives there, he feels out of place. the experiences have bypassed him. he has not shared in this and what has happened there. he's not sure how to connect with the people of how to interact with him. he is not sure what is the
10:20pm
proper way to engage with the locals and his own people. so he feels a little bit injured. he meets her in a hospital. then he becomes very attached to this little girl and decides that he is going to help her. then he returns home this includes how complicated generosity truly is about the strenuous and difficult nature
10:21pm
of actual kindness and charity. so becomes kind of a morality tale. you know, it is something that i have thought about a great deal when i go to afghanistan and when i first went there. when i first went i was very careful not to promise anything to anyone. but i just wanted to help everyone. when i came back home, we actually wanted to help people organize and think about how takes time and patience and work and perseverance and so on and so forth. >> in fact you have the khaled hosseini foundation which we saw in the film. there is an impulse to find a structure for the need to help.
10:22pm
>> absolutely. i have made it abundantly clear that one of the reasons i started my foundation was that i had whelming guilt when i went to afghanistan. when i went and i saw and i thought about this. but this is the inside of a 12-year-old and is not particularly deep, but that doesn't make it untrue. when i went there i just felt that i felt guilty because my life is charmed. this is before the publication of books and so on. i have led a life of complete privilege. and i saw these people that realize the only thing separating me from this man is genetics. what it boils down to is that deep inside there is an annoying feeling of honor and privilege and this creates a feeling of
10:23pm
survivor's guilt. so my foundation and other reasons as well, one of the reasons why is to turn something that i found it that was a negative emotion into something positive and productive as a vehicle to do something that hopefully was endearing and would make a difference to the lives of people who i have written about in my books. that is the point. the widows, the orphans come in the elderly, those on the street, the downtrodden, etc. >> having just recently been there with secretary kerry and the president gave a speech, which is largely motivated by the necessity to reframe a relationship with afghanistan and the region as the dns, what is your perspective going forward.
10:24pm
do you see this conceivably being the truly free election of a handoff of power and success will withdraw? can afghanistan stand on its own? >> can do so militarily? >> that's a very good question. i don't think anybody knows the answer to that at this time. i don't think the afghan people know. i would describe it as a time of uncertainty. there is a legitimate argument that some make that the doomsday scenario is coming, and that he would not even see the takeover by the taliban, but the all-out militia warfare. there are people who believe that this will happen. i happen to think that it won't
10:25pm
necessarily happen and that the parties that were involved hopefully have learned some important lessons about the benefits of peace and a peaceful country. but it is simply part of the bogeyman that every afghanistan is terrified of. the rampant violence, with impunity of the 1990s. >> one of the recurring themes is the women of afghanistan, self-determination, the things that americans have done, the things that afghans have done for themselves. those that are women business leaders, they are very worried about the legal rights that they have one. >> yes, they are. things for women have improved in pockets.
10:26pm
and i believe that if you go to a remote village, you wouldn't know what it really is. it could still be 1999. so things have not changed all that much. but i do think that in the urban regions, things have improved and have been significant advances in the field of women's rights and as a female provincial governor in afghanistan, that would've been unthinkable in afghanistan and serving in the lower house of the parliament. but like you, i was with individuals that do worry and i think that the role of women in the afghan society has got to be preserved. women's rights has to be one of the cornerstones of national
10:27pm
rebuilding of afghanistan has any chance of being a prosperous and peaceful nation in the future. the way to lift yourself out of poverty is to empower your women. so i am hoping that this is not a bargaining chip whenever those negotiations happen. >> i think people want to know how you go about your writing. how the creative process works. >> well, it is very disorganized. i know some writers to outline an entire novels. every chapter is accounted for and then they spend three months writing a book. and in some ways i envy that. but it does not work for me. i just start writing. this novel, my latest book began
10:28pm
with a very simple but clear and deliberate picture, which there was a guy walking across a desert and he had one of those red radio flyer wagons and there's a cute little girl in the wagon and about 10 steps behind him was a boy who is following them. and i had no idea who these three people were, where they were going. but this image completely possessed me and i became absolutely convinced that there is something in this picture that is very moving and dramatic and compelling and i had to figure out what it is. and they just kept snowballing and so in so long to the point where this book became, in many ways, my most sweeping book with the largest number of locales and also i think more ambitious in a dramatic way. it is kind of snowballed into this. i had no idea where the book was
10:29pm
going. i have zero idea where the book was going. i never known him my books are going to end. so i end up writing multiple drafts and having revelations and epiphanies and some bits of insight each subsequent draft. so i keep remolding and rewriting on to something that feels real and truthful to me. so the dramatic example is in the kite runner, i had no idea that the two boys were related. i just bought that i thought of it and it changed the tenor of the book. so became suddenly much more powerful as a book, i think because of that relationship. >> it's not an accident that one of your individuals as a poet. >> correct. it is in the afghan soul. if you go to afghanistan and you have been there many times, you
10:30pm
talk to people and there's even there is even a poetry in the way they express themselves. you know, even in the villages, people know the poetry and they can recite verses. when we were in school, we were obligated to memorize poetry and to be able to recite it from memory. and even in the way people express themselves, it is kind of a slightly poetic flavor in a way that the people speak. but i think that the most vivid example is when i went to the palace, which was built in the early 20th century and was this magnificent massive palace that had massive columns and it was gorgeous. and it became sort of the battlegrounds of the militia fighting it became the most
10:31pm
magnificent and splendor to destitution and i noticed the paths had graffiti everywhere. so much of it was poetry. you know? and i was very touched by that. there were lines of classic poetry and obviously someone's that had been amateurs poetry, but a lot of it was poetry and so forth and so on. a character in this book was working for an ngo. and even the graffiti artists. so that is why i love it here. >> what do you hope that people
10:32pm
take away from this experience, aside from the fact that it is heartbreaking and sweeping in its emotional. >> you want a real one? >> yes. >> okay, i want people to be deeply moved and recognize something of being human on this planet and to understand the life on the pages of this book and i want them to read something and say, you know, i know that experience i have had that. and to be able to connect on the level. but the fake noble answer, i
10:33pm
want to understand it better. but i do understand that fiction doesn't always go where you attend. it has served to afghan history in afghan culture and afghan way of life. and it has given people a more human dimension of this country that is so much part of this. >> we are discussing what this commitment is and why we are here. we are creating this universality of human experience.
10:34pm
>> i think you for an talking about this is the first step towards him but me. i think that is what literature inherently does. i always use the example of this to make someone feel like what it was like to be a refugee. it includes the militias along the way. i felt a great sense of empathy for those boys just because book was novel. and that is the great gift of reading. you get to see the world through their eyes and hopefully understand them better. >> we think you'll for this.
10:35pm
we have questions and we have organized this. please come down the aisle. >> may i say that this is the lobby loveliest venue that i've ever been to. i am so thankful to be here. it is just beautiful. >> and the perfect place and fitting for us as well. thank you. >> hello, i am still waiting to wake up. i cannot believe that i am actually face-to-face talking to you. >> my name is deborah and my friend and i are both educators and i just want to -- i don't really have a question but i would just like to tell you that your remark about how you may not be aware of how you have
10:36pm
affected people just really sets in my heart. my friend and i were both -- we spearheaded an effort to get the kite runner is part of our curriculum in northern ireland, which was very successful and thousands of students have read your book. it has changed their lives from actually admitting that this is the only book that they have ever read to passing it down to their siblings and to changing prejudice and stereotypes. i just want to let you know that and we are so grateful for that. >> make you for that. i am not unaware of that. i appreciate it. [applause] >> i am not a aloof person to that. but it is such a great honor. i'm just saying that that is not my intention when i go to write. it was just something that does happen and i feel very honored
10:37pm
by that. >> is to build off of that, i was equally as excited to read this book. i read it in nine hours. nine hours living as a peace corps volunteer and my host family thought i was not in the ukraine because i wouldn't eat until i finished the book. and "the kite runner" was very powerful. emotional intelligence is a part of the rich fabric of education. i would like to talk about the process of storytelling and empathy come and how you can get people to relate to these characters. >> if it is a conscious effort to force a particular dynamic, it is doomed to fail. the best way that i can achieve what you have said is to get
10:38pm
down in what is many times called a mental bunker and get as close as i can the story of my characters and understand them to the very core and inhabit them and let them behave in ways that surprise me. but i feel spontaneous about and allow the story to be as real to the extent of my abilities. i think of the story is told that way, it will have that kind of impact and we have a chance to connect with people on a level that might change their mind about something. that might make a positive impact. to also be illuminating in some fashion. every time i have tried and written with an agenda, it has always come across as very self-conscious, wooden, and i
10:39pm
just see and hear myself on the pages, which is the last thing that i wanted to happen. >> hello, i've been following you since you are dazed and i thank you for a wonderful interview. mr. khaled hosseini, thank you so much for coming to washington. i'm sure that i feel a sense of sadness whenever i finish a book of you is because when you read a really good book to me you are sad when it comes to an end. i cannot wait to read this one. i wanted to ask you about your characters and what happens to them when you are finished writing a book. do they continue to live with you, do they sit down and have coffee with you, or do you set them free once you have finished the book and let them live their lives in the? >> well, they were with me, by which i mean when i have written the final draft, so long as i am
10:40pm
actually having them work with me. not just with writing, but when i am taking my son to his guitar lesson, they are with me when i'm waiting for my daughter to finish swimming. they constantly live with me. so they become very real and it is a cliché, but it really occupies the natural space in my life. but once it is done and i'm kind of done with the book, i know that they don't belong to me anymore really because everyone is going to have their own idea of these characters and their own interpretations and they will be out in the public and people often take great ownership of them. i will give you a very dramatic example of that. when i wrote my first novel, there is a character who is a
10:41pm
boy is the main character goes and recipes out of afghanistan when the taliban comes back to the united states. so in doing this book signing, this lady walked up to me and leaned over and asked how this character was doing. and i said oh, okay. [laughter] 's a kind of joke and then i saw that she was serious. and i said well, it's a novel. so he's not real. [laughter] and she looked at me and i could tell that she was not going to have it. and she said we just tell him that i'm praying for him. [laughter] and i said god bless you, thank you. and that is when i realized that this character does not belong to me anymore. [applause] >> hello. one of my favorite lines from the book is the greater process. >> you're the first person who
10:42pm
spoke about the. >> i got the book when it came out and i devoured it. and i was wondering if this rings true to you. you mentioned dave eggers. and if so, who do you steal from. >> well, i guess i should clarify. >> so there is a section in the book that is set entirely as a magazine interview where a woman, an afghan woman who is a poet, she is probably my character that is the favorite in the entire novel. maybe i should introduce her for a second. her name is neil and she's very surprising for people to have a consumption of afghan women and how repressed they have been legally and physically. because she is such a modern
10:43pm
woman. >> she is antithetical to everything. >> and we meet her in the 50s, we meet her again in the 70s when she's in her 40s. and she is a poet, she is a fiercely sexual creature. she is very brazen, very outspoken. extremely intelligent. she is insightful, a raging narcissists, a budding alcoholic, a terrible mother, a devoted mother. and supremely talented. and she will not cower before anyone. so she is sort of this very interesting creature and i really love writing about her. but she is doing this interview with this guy. and the guy says you will find that writing involves taking things that don't want here.
10:44pm
i am not talking about plagiarism. but what i think what she means, and really what i mean as well, as horrible as it sounds, you cannot write from a vacuum. you cannot just make things up out of the blue. ultimately you heard something or you observe something, something that struck you as very interesting. and you incorporate that into your writing. sometimes it is a tiny bit of someone's personality. you know, my characters very often or sort of composite of things that i feel personally. things i steal for myself all the time and also from other people that i have come across in the course of my travels and people that i have met and bits of them that i have found very intriguing. so every writer works that way. if they tell you they do not, they are lying.
10:45pm
>> using bigger medical experience impacted the writing process, and if so, how is that? >> the only thing that i can say is that i have done is training without sleeping a lot. and it taught me to priests and to persevere. you will get that medical degree someday, it just seems like it is so far ahead. outside of that i really compartmentalize my life rather
10:46pm
well. so i have tremendous respect for physicians and the profession itself. but it just wasn't me. so i was kind of writing to escape that and i kept those two parts of my life fairly separate. that being said, there is an awful lot of medical stuff happening. bonuses and so on. so this comes in handy and i can kind of easy to tell stories. maybe that is the extent. >> hello, i'm wondering how your books have been received in afghanistan and if they have raised the controversy there. >> i think my first book did. i doubt that my second book dead. it is probably the least political of my books. but if you have lived in exile for over two decades in all this stuff of this stuff has been happening and you decide to
10:47pm
write a story about people that live there, you can imagine that they will have opinions. some of those opinions will be good. some of them not so good. and so my sense is that in urbanized, more liberal, younger professional afghans, there was a very decent groundswell of support for my books. because they talk about things that happened in afghanistan. and they are more open to discuss some of the issues. particularly with regard to it ethnic tensions and so forth. but i think perhaps the more religious members of the community have had their differences with my books. not that it was wasn't adequate or accurate, but rather that it was best kept quiet within the
10:48pm
family. to me that is completely antithetical to the whole idea of writing. if you're going to be afraid of subject matters and you're going to shy away from topics for the fear of what also think, then you really have no business writing fiction because your job really is to write about things that upset people. not in a provocative way, but in a way that people maybe are comfortable talking about. my first book certainly did create dialogue and my community site a lot. >> thank you. >> are there other questions? >> is when ask you about all the controversy over targeted killings and civilian casualties and when you go back in the
10:49pm
afghan community at large, do you find all of the mutual sacrifices by americans and afghans to try to find some kind of peace? >> i think in my experience, they have a nuanced view of the american involvement. it is fairly sophisticated and i think on the one hand, afghans are deeply pragmatic people. we all know that afghan has this great moniker and we all know that. so there is no history of welcoming them under foreign soil. at the same time i think among many afghans, the nato presence has been seen as a safeguard against this scenario especially
10:50pm
with the kind of chaos that we saw in the 1990s. and that has been expressed early on in the campaign. i think there was a fairly solid majority of afghans that supported us. and that has been compromised to some extent in the last few years because of the things that you mentioned that end up having collateral damage. because of this and the night raids in the airstrikes and etc. because of certain acts of culturalism nativity that happened in afghanistan. and certainly sargent bales in the massacre did not help at all and i was a disaster. there has been a gradual erosion of that support. and yet even today despite everything that has happened, i
10:51pm
think many afghans do feel a sense of trepidation by the departure of foreign troops. not because they like having foreigners on our land but i think because legitimacy concerns about how prepared the afghan state is, what kind of state we have built antenna hold together and tenant due its primary job, which is to perfect the population that's kind of, you know, a bit of a questionable notion right now and the jury is out on how prepared the state is. >> it is partly a sense that we have fairly or unfairly the political leadership has not grown to the task. i have a good example would
10:52pm
sordid american leaders. others you don't see candidates emerging. although apparently there will be a large field of candidates in this coming election. but we don't yet see the rise of home-grown candidates who seem to be carrying afghan leadership >> that is why there is a story in this country right now and it doesn't get that much traction. but it is one that actually happened to be pretty critical, at least in the future of afghanistan because we have parliamentary elections in 2015 and i think that the question of who the candidate is and who might win the election is important. but i think equally important is how they win it. how are these elections carried out. are the elections going to be nonviolent and will they be
10:53pm
reasonably fair and the perception of the afghan public. will the government that emerges perceived by the afghans is having some legitimacy. and i do worry that that could be a trigger for political instability and what potentially unravels into violence. so i think that that is a critical time coming up for afghanistan next year i don't know if you're working on other ideas for your next book yet or if you'd like to share about that. >> if anyone has an idea for a book. [laughter] >> now is the time to tell me. [laughter]
10:54pm
>> i would like to reopen my mind come this fall and see what happens next. >> you have written about fathers and sons and mothers and daughters and no siblings and generations of families. so should we assume that the family relationships are still a central integration for you? >> and always speaks to me. and i said this in the past to others. it is because when i grew up in afghanistan, you know, in that society is very difficult to overstate what an important role family plays in how you see yourself as a person. and how you understand your place in the grand scheme of things. you don't see yourself as an isolated individual that you see yourself as a son or a cousin or a brother or a grandson.
10:55pm
family is how you make sense of your world and how you understand her identity. and all the great teams forget about literature and they are contained within this organization and this form of love and regret and duty and sacrifice and anything. so it did to me it is an endless source of fascination and one that has always spoken to me. i don't know what happens next, but it's entirely possible. >> if you had been a girl? if you have been a girl of your generation, would you have had the education and the opportunity? >> well, i happened to grow up in afghanistan. you know, we got to see the final two years of an era of what many afghans would call the
10:56pm
golden era. i remember how startled i was and they have no idea where that was. they had never heard of it. you know, i feel privileged foreign land mines and drug trafficking in the for bin laden. our country was beautiful and it was at peace. , was thriving, there was culture, there was an influx of modernization. but it was quickly making its way towards this. and it was a great place to grow up. it sounds very funny but afghanistan was a great place to be a kid. it really was is from my perspective. it was a poor country even then.
10:57pm
so i think that if i was born as a girl in those days, i certainly would've been educated in my mother was a vice principal at a very large high school. very outspoken, successful, professional women in my family and extended family and friends. there needs to be a red line in afghanistan is the education of women. you know, this is not a secret and how you empower women and this has to be, this has to be used as a bargaining chip, the future of afghanistan is crucial and nonnegotiable. [applause]
10:58pm
[applause] >> you can see for all of us, for me personally and for everyone in this glorious place, this has been a very special time to hear you about how you create these wonderful works of fiction. for those who have not had the chance, the book is extraordinary. it is set in this place but also in paris in california. and things that are universal to all this. spirit i have learned so much
10:59pm
and i am a great admirer of yours. this has been a real privilege. [applause] >> tomorrow night we will look at books that viewers are reading this summer. on her facebook page, winston spencer churchill, defender of the realm, 1940s 1965. that is at 8:00 p.m. eastern. in america the beautiful, it airs at 8:50 p.m. and the new digital age.
11:00pm
we shaping american businesses. we will show you that at 10:00 o'clock. >> brown eyed on c-span's encore presentation. >> people are imitating her clothes and hairstyle. ..